I was delighted to chat to Liz Ledger from "TGt" as part of annual International Women's Day celebrations on 8th March. The interview series covers a variety of inspirational women from the local area in business, entertainment and sport about their personal and professional experiences.
Which woman would you compare yourself to?
Question number 1 and stumped already!! I’ve genuinely never compared myself to anyone, as I’m simply Anna-Marie. I draw inspiration and positivity from a variety of women who sometimes even fleetingly cross my life. I find the quote “everyone you ever meet knows something you don’t” from the TED Talk by Celeste Headlee the perfect reminder to frame your daily interactions with curiosity and genuine interest.
What would you say is your most valuable skill and why?
The skill of determination has been a common thread that’s surfaced time and time again throughout my life. This inner strength of mind is illustrated through the challenges of Army officer training at Sandhurst, Arctic warfare training with the Marines in Norway, working and living under strict cultural restrictions in Saudi Arabia, placing in the top 50 elite in the Marathon des Sables and establishing my own performance coaching business Reach for More.
Why do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day?
International Women’s Day presents as essential moment of solidarity to reflect on the status of women across the globe on an annual basis. I’ve been fortunate to celebrate and promote International Women’s Day in various cities across the world over the last few years; Nariobi, Abu Dhabi, Sydney and Riyadh. The differences between these cities clearly illustrate the fact that despite numerous social, economic, cultural and political achievements by women progress has slowed in several places and it’s imperative ongoing action is taken to accelerate gender parity.
Do you have family (and/or children)? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My extended family and friends play a fundamental role in my life and their ongoing support is an enduring key cornerstone. I live with my husband and training partner; Ben, then my family and friendship network are spread over the world. It’s an ongoing juggling act to balance family, friends, Reach for More., endurance training, racing, ongoing professional development and moments of relaxation. It’s so important to take a breathe, pause and remind myself to appreciate the moment every day!
Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career?
Over the last six years my nomadic lifestyle has presented several challenges though conversely I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge, skills and met some amazing people along the way. Our innate biological and physiological negative outlook through the inevitable “what if” phenomenon can easily creep in to cloud our judgement. Ultimately I endeavour to foster a “no regrets” policy in relation to the past and I am now looking forward to being grounded in the southwest for the next few years to explore various professional and endurance racing.
Do you ever experience any discrimination in the work place because of your gender?
This question immediately draws my attention to my earlier military career as the statistics still indicate only 8.9% of the British Army is female and these figures have increased since I joined in the late 1990s. From a personal perspective gender never presented any monumental challenges or restricted my career options during the 9 years I served as an Army officer in the Royal Logistics Corps. I have fond memories of working alongside members of my first Troop (all male) where I acquired the nickname “Mini Mam” based on my 5”1’ petit stature.
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to fellow females looking to get into your profession?
The same message can be applied to fellow females looking to enter the coaching profession, join the Armed Forces or sign up for a 5km, 10km, half marathon, marathon or ultra race…simply go for it!! Trust in your own ability, skills and deep inner resolve. Remember the mantra “there is no failure only feedback” as it’s usually our inner critical voice that undermines our confidence and limits our true potential.
Do men ever feel intimidated by your success?
I’ve always received really positive support and encouragement across the board from men in my life. Sometimes there’s an indication of surprise in relation to my endurance athletic successes though that’s generally connected to my small size.
If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be?
Gertrude Bell (3rd from left with T.E Lawrence and Winston Churchill taken in 1921 in front of the Pyramids)
Queen Elizabeth 1
As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
The last ten years have been an indescribable roller coaster adventure beyond my mid-twenties perceived dreams. Over the next ten years I’ll continue to live my personal motto “Life is a journey, not a destination” created by Ralph Emerson the mid-nineteenth century American Transcendental poet and aptly written in my twenty-first birthday card by my dad.